19 million people in the UK have provided unpaid care - but haven’t identified as a carer
- Polling shows nearly three quarters of people (73 per cent) who currently provide unpaid care, or have provided care in the past, have never identified as or called themselves a carer
- Eight million people who have provided unpaid care have also seen their health and wellbeing suffer
- Seven charities supporting Carers Week call for cross-Government action and a funded National Carers Strategy
Carers UK, along with six charities, carried out the polling of the general public to coincide with the start of Carers Week. They found that 73% of people in the UK who are providing, or have provided, unpaid care in their lifetime - roughly 19 million people - have not identified themselves as a carer.
The polling also suggests eight million people (31 per cent) in the UK with experience of providing care have seen their health and wellbeing suffer.
The findings demonstrate the need for Government and all areas of society to play a role in supporting millions of people to identify their caring role and get help.
The polling reveals that the vast majority of carers could be missing out on important information, support or advice that could make a real difference to their day-to-day lives.
Nearly half of those who took longer to identify themselves as a carer (46%) said they missed out on financial support as a result of not knowing they were a carer, and 35% missed out on practical support. This lack of support can leave unpaid carers isolated; unable to take breaks from caring, struggling to look after their physical and mental health, stay in work or education, or manage financially.
Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK commenting on behalf of the Carers Week charities said:
The fact that the large majority of people who have cared for a friend or family member in the UK haven’t identified or called themselves a carer shows that there is so much to be done to raise awareness of unpaid care and its impact on individuals, whether that be to their finances or physical or mental health.
“Eight million people with experience of care seeing their health suffer is concerning and shows the need for targeted action to support carers.
“Healthcare professionals, employers and wider society have an important responsibility to help people with caring responsibilities get the right support when they need it.
“The Government needs to show that it recognises and values unpaid carers by stepping up cross-government action to support them, alongside a funded National Carers Strategy.”
Providing care is a common experience – the polling shows that 50 per cent of the public have at some point in their life provided unpaid care to a family member or friend with a disability, illness, mental health condition or who needs extra help as they grow older.
The YouGov Poll found that women are significantly more likely to be providing unpaid care than men and are more likely to identify as or call themselves a carer.
People providing unpaid care often fail to identify their caring role because they see themselves primarily as a family member or friend, or the process of taking on a caring role is very gradual as the condition of the person being cared for deteriorates over time. Other barriers include carers being too busy to realise the role they’re undertaking, or not feeling like the amount of support being provided is enough to be identified as a carer.
They may be missing out on Carer’s Allowance, the main benefit for those caring 35 hours or more each week and earning under £139, support from their local council to take a break, or practical support from their local carer organisation.
Running from 5 June to 11 June, the charities supporting Carers Week 2023 are Carers UK, Age UK, Carers Trust, MND Association, Rethink Mental Illness, Oxfam GB and The Lewy Body Society. Together, they are calling on Government for better recognition of unpaid carers across society so that they can access the vital support they need to carry out their caring role.